Friday, December 28, 2018

Frugal Hits & Misses: December 2018 Report

Ah, December. What would we do without this peaceful, serene month of music, gift-giving and the significance of celebrating the Savior's birth?

Except it hasn't quite worked out that way.

The business work I'd planned to finish before Dec. 1st... didn't. (Just a few more to go. Just a few days, and they'll be done. WHEW.) 

I keep thinking of this...

A nice case of flu slowed things down, although we were both recovered by the time The Mama came to visit. Then my time was taken up mostly with her - and getting ready for the festivities. It's been fun, but the Brick and I were grateful for bed each night. 
     Our granddog Karma has been here to keep Charley and Ruby busy. Daughter #2 has spent some time here, too, hanging out with us and playing games with Grams, while Son #1 made an essential trip to see his dad for the holidays. (Grams and Daughter both LOVE to play games -- the Brick and I participate, but mostly halfheartedly.)
     There are other things to be grateful for. The house is reasonably clean, thanks to the Brickworks party on Dec. 16. (I'll pick up and vacuum more after The Mama heads home late in the month.) We got some presents -- and gave some -- but nobody went overboard this year. (None of us had the extra funds to do it, which helped.) The emergency fund is smaller -- but it's still there. We didn't overspend on groceries, and pretty much used what we had for decorating. And we did get some rest.
     I'll take that any day. 


(Includes some late November items)

*Two book signing gigs this month. They didn't put much in my pocket -- you sell the store's copies, not yours. They were, however, a good opportunity to talk to people and promote The Book. (It continues to do well, by the way.)

*Beef roast $2.02/lb; pork loin chops $1.04/lb -- thank you, Sam's Club. (We also got Christmas trees during that visit for $9.81 each -- one for us, one for Daughter #1.)

*Got a 500 million German mark note from Ebay! Too bad it hasn't been official currency since the 1920s. (Yes, inflation was that bad back then. Read Hemingway's Moveable Feast for proof.)

*Baby shower  presents-- had a set of kids' books (The Boxcar Children) already stashed in my gift box, and bought a few cute outfits at the thrift shop to go with it. (Dropped off a book and large appraisal report at a client's on my way back home -- and saved on mailing costs.)

*Two weeks worth of piano lessons. I'll be starting two new students (maybe three) soon after the new year.

*Visited a bakery outlet in Colorado Springs for bread and doughnuts: about 1/3 regular price, with a free bag of buns thrown in. (The clerk asked another customer if he wanted help. He said that his girlfriend's dog had eaten a whole box of his doughnuts -- so he was buying more, and giftwrapping them for under the tree!)
     I did this on the way home from an appraisal session, so didn't waste gas, either.

*$50 gift card for Outback Steakhouse -- plus two $10 bonus cards free. I just happened to catch this one-day special. Got some gift cards and bonus cards from Red Robin, as well -- but not as many as last year.

*Regifted a few nice things we were given for Christmas -- but won't work for the trailer.

*Tablecloths and more tablecloths:  cloth, $2 and $4.89, plus 75 cents paper, with napkins to match. For The Mama's Christmas, as well as a $10 nativity set. (She griped that she couldn't find her shepherds this season -- now she doesn't have to worry about it.)

*99-cent bags of fruit: 6 apples and pears, 2 pomegranates, 6 tomatoes. (Yes, they're fruit, too!) Also several limes, some small zucchini...and two-pound bags of unshelled almonds.

*Hosted a recital Dec. 9, along with another teacher. Made little pigs-in-blankets and a big kettle of soup; he brought a huge veggie plate. We both added dessert goodies, and a third person brought flowers to give to the moms. It went great.

*Polished our boots. I need to do this at least one more time, to really get the waterproofing worked into the leather. Our other shoes need it, as well. Maybe during a movie.

*Half-priced Christmas presents...the last few. Found a real steal on Ebay for Daughter #2 and Son #1, and a second present at an extremely low price.

Here's another reasonably-priced option for a present: money and candy bars!

*Had a private harp concert. Fixed an almond cake, cheesecake and some goodies. Asked Brickworks employees, as well as some friends who also enjoy music, and they brought more desserts. This was the Brickworks party for the year -- and it was lovely.

*Six months of free Apple music. (The Brick will cancel after that.)

*$20 and $30 bonuses respectively in our ENT bank accounts. Wow, the credit union doesn't do this!

*Participated in the Paypal/Facebook matching fundraiser 11/27 for Creekside Bible Church -- plus donated a little to Wikipedia.

*A Rustic Christmas celebration, with fancy meal and music entertainment included! We were able to bring two friends with, as well. (Thank you, Lord & Richards.)

*Round steak $2.48/lb -- shrimp skewers $2.50/lb. (The latter made delicious scampi during the Seven Fish Dishes.)

*Goodie packages for two college students. The truffles purchased last month really came in handy for this.

Everyone needs a little surprise in their life.

*German chocolate cake and filet mignon for Son #1's delayed birthday supper...without having to make a special trip to the store.

*Friday freebies: candy, mashed potatoes, grill spices, candle. Thank you, King Soopers, for offering this! They seem to have discontinued the program, though...darn.

*Filled dish soap and bathroom soap containers with dollarstore dish detergent. (Thanks, Frugal Mom in Boise, for reminding me you can do this!)
     I just wish someone would come up with peppermint foot lotion at the dollar store. Really missing this. Can I make it? (The Mama did bring me a bottle of peppermint handsoap she didn't care for...thanks, Mom.)

*Listened to Pandora music for free. We pay some for Sirius in the truck -- but not a lot. It's so nice to listen not only to a wide range of music, including wonderful bluegrass, but my secret pleasure: radio classic shows. (I feel extremely leery of Alexa.)

*Free coupons ($3) for soup -- after a less-than-stellar experience with Campbell's Chunky brand

*Carrot pie for Thanksgiving, instead of pumpkin! (The one can I had was nasty inside...and I hadn't baked the fresh pumpkin yet.)

I will, I will.

*Didn't waste food. Mostly. (See below.) Limp veggies went into pasta dishes or soup. Some fruit went into smoothies. Anything heated up more than once went into the dogs. (We did the same thing with Christmas leftovers.)

*Bought a number of $2 videos from the local library used book room. Gave most as Christmas presents, sold a few on Amazon.

*Fixed buttons, made repairs on clothing that needed it. Caught up (mostly) on ironing...still some shirts and pillowcases to go.

*No Black Friday purchases, except a book. (A lost treasure book for the Brick's Christmas present.). I didn't go out to the stores, either.

*Amazon offered a $5-off-$20 special for books in December. Guess what I used for The Brick's present?

I love books. (from, via Pinterest)

*Sang several times for church. This is such a pleasure that it's worth the extra time commitment. Christmas music has a special beauty, and it's an honor to be helping out.

*Free quilt-related appointment calendar -- from the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum. (Thank you!) Got a big landscape calendar from the dollar store for Daughter #2 (one for us, too) -- and half-price off on a 'Yoga Dogs' version for our dogwalker Daughter #1.

*Purchased extra stamps -- for us, and for Christmas stockings for the kids and The Mama. 'Forever' stamps are going up 5 cents in mid-January; you should get some now before the price increase.

*Individual lobsters $6.50 each -- then a second batch, for $4.99 each! These were Christmas dinner; the second batch will be for a dinner for Son #1.

*Dollarstore purchases: to finish off stockings (and stock up on cleaning products, oatmeal cookies and our favorite: chocolate-covered grahams). Deliberately stayed out of stores, except for groceries, otherwise.

*Thrift shop huge Santa candle for $ a few Christmas presents. I also got a hurricane lamp-style snowglobe for $15 after Christmas -- 70% off.

*One long appraisal session, and two short ones.  A little extra income is always nice!


*At least $500 deductible to pay for backing into the neighbor's car last month. (Sigh) And it was really a small ding -- but reportedly the hood has to be replaced. This is a kind neighbor I trust, or I'd be making a bigger fuss about the price. (Running it through insurance will help - we haven't had an accident for decades, so hopefully the premiums won't go up.)

*MRIs -- one for me (gimpy knee) and two for the Brick (spine and shoulder issues). Also a few doctor's visits for the Brick, and an ultrasound -- his stomach just does not seem completely well after his appendix and gallbladder went away. A doctor's visit and blood tests for me; it never seems to end. Lesson learned: group these in the same year as much as possible; once your deductible is satisfied, the cost to you will be much less. Even if it means going out in a snowstorm on the last day of the old year, to drive to an MRI appointment...

*Our 2019 insurance premiums have TRIPLED from 2018.  Ouch. And not because of the Brick's medical issues -- this is just what the general Colorado marketplace price was for this coming year.

*Renewed the Brickworks LLC... but late. ($50 penalty) Double ouch. (I've noted this in next year's calendar, so I don't miss the deadline again.)

*Sent a lot of free books to clients -- for several reasons, including Christmas presents.

*Let a large zucchini go bad. Shame on me. A few tomatoes and oranges went the mushy route too, before they could be used. (Some grapes are headed that way, but I can catch them in time.)
    I can do better.

*The heat's on now -- but it's needed. We've had lower temps than usual. Nonetheless, we keep the thermostat low, wear sweaters and use extra blankets (2 quilts at present on our bed). Space heaters and the woodstove also come in handy.

*A performance of the Nutcracker -- $16 tickets (Castle Rock Dance Academy). This may not sound like much to you...but given our current planning, it's a lot. On the other hand,we and The Mama enjoyed it very much.

January begins extensive work on the house, to get it ready for sale in the spring -- including clearing out the pantry and freezer. Use-em-up stories like this one are a real encouragement for this sort of task. Neither of us is looking forward to this -- but it needs to be done.

Here's last year's December report -- and last month's, as well.

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